How to Protect Yourself from Phishing (pronounced: fishing) Scams

By Bryan Bardwell, Oxford’s Security and Privacy Officer

Don’t get hooked by crooks! Our latest blog post outlines several ways to avoid online scams.

Even in the relative safety of our homes, the world can be a dangerous place. Scammers will attempt to trick you and steal your personal information through various means, such as deceptive phone calls, going through your trash, or with fake emails, just to name a few.

In the digital age, one of the most dubious online scams is known a “Phishing”. Thieves send an email to target victims, often to thousands of people at a time. On the surface, the email appears to be a legitimate contact attempt, but is really a fraudulent message. When links within the e-mail are clicked or an attachment is opened, it triggers computer scripts that automatically download a virus or malware onto your computer. These viruses can capture personal information, such as your User ID and Password logins, bank details, Social Security numbers and credit card account information.

Phishing is a huge threat to homes and businesses because of the vast amount of important information most users store on their computer(s). They may have different messages, but ALL Phishing scams will have some sort of urgency involved in the message, such as: If you do not confirm your User ID and Password by 4pm, we will be forced to lock you out of your computer.

How To Avoid Phishing Scams 

  1. Scan your e-mails carefully and look for grammar mistakes and other inconsistencies.
  2. Verify the email sender’s address to confirm it was sent from a legitimate source. Most phishing scams will try to fool you with similar email addresses, but the email domain name (e.g. Bob@xyzbank.com) should match the web address of a real company.
  3. In addition, secure websites that require a login will all begin with https:// – That “s” indicates the site is Secure. (For example, Gmail’s email server is https://mail.google.com/mail).  Always look for https:// if you’re asked to enter a User ID and Password to access a website.  Legitimate secure sites will include all banks, credit card companies, and other email providers (such as Outlook, Yahoo, and Hotmail), as well as shopping websites like Amazon, Target, Walmart, EBay etc.
  4. Email fraud can be the easiest of all thefts – by simply adding Click Here somewhere in the email text, many victims are enticed to click on the link, and are then directed to a website that is not legitimate. The fake website may have similar graphics or logos to a real company, and will ask for your User ID, Password or to verify personal details. If you comply, it could compromise your computer. But there is an easy way to see through this type of click-through scam: To view the web address behind a “Click Here” link, hover over the link with your mouse without clicking it. A small window will pop up with a URL, such as https://www.xyzbank.com, as shown below.
  5. If you suspect that an email is a phishing attempt, play it safe – DO NOT open any attachments or click any links.

Hover your pointer over a link to see the destination website address.

What to Look For

Here is an example of a Phishing email:

Example of a Phishing email

What are the RED flags in this Phishing email?

  • Look for inconsistencies in the From: – is it a legitimate email address?
  • Check for an attachment. It will appear under the Subject: DO NOT open if you are unsure of who is sending you this information. Be very careful of .zip file attachments in any email.
  • Hover over Click Here to see the website where the link will take you. If you see a number or “http:” instead of “https:”, DO NOT click links or go to the site.
  • Note that there is no personal sender information (name, address, phone, email) signature in the email.

Failure to notice these telltale signs could result in “Phishers” gaining access to your private account information or other personal data.

Other Resources

To help combat Identity Theft, the Internal Revenue Service offers “Seven Steps for Making Identity Protection Part of Your Routine”.

  1. Review your credit card and baking statements carefully and often. Neither your credit card, bank or the IRS will send you emails asking for sensitive personal and financial information, such as asking you for updates to your account.
  2. Review and respond to all notices and correspondence from the Internal Revenue Service.
  3. Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. Visit annualcreditreport.com to get your free reports.
  4. Review your annual Social Security income statement for excessive income reported. You can sign up for an electronic account at SSA.gov
  5. Shred any documents with personal and financial information.
  6. Review your health insurance statements; look for claims you never filed or care you never received.
  7. If you receive any routine federal deposits such as Social Security of VA benefits, you probably receive those electronically. You can use the same direct deposit for your federal and state tax refund which is safe and secure.

Good Nutrition Promotes Wound Healing

Healing with nutritionBy Alicia Jenkins BS, RN, CWCN, Oxford Wound Analyst

Good nutrition is essential for wound healing. During the healing process, the body needs increased amounts of calories, protein, vitamins A and C, and sometimes the mineral zinc. Food choices and nutritional status influence wound healing since serious wounds increase the energy, vitamin, mineral and protein requirements necessary to promote healing. Nutrients are lost through wound fluid as well.

Nutrition Tips

  1. Eat sufficient calories from a balanced diet of nutritious foods. Plan healthy, balanced meals and snacks that include a variety of foods, including protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains. If appetite is an issue, eat 5 -6 small meals a day instead of trying to eat 3 large meals in a day.
  2. Include optimum amounts of protein, aiming for 20-30 grams of protein at each meal and 10-15 grams of protein with each snack. A piece of cooked chicken, lean meat or fish the size of a deck of cards (about 3 ounces) contains 20-25 grams of protein. One egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 1 ounce of cheese each contain 6-7 grams of protein. One cup of low-fat milk or yogurt contains 8 grams of protein.
  3. Stay well hydrated with water and other unsweetened beverages, unless contraindicated and directed otherwise by your physician. It is important to remain within dietary guidelines given by your for other disease processes, for example regarding any limitations of fluid or protein intake.
  4. For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to promote wound healing, prevent wound infection and prevent new wounds. Blood sugar levels need to be monitored closely. You may need to visit your doctor and a registered dietician to help control blood sugar through diet and medication.

Power Foods and Food Groups to Help with Wound Healing

  • Protein: Meats, beans, eggs, milk, and yogurt (particularly Greek yogurt), tofu, soy nuts and soy protein products.
  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, tomato juice, peppers, baked potatoes, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage.
  • Vitamin A: Dark green leafy vegetables, orange or yellow vegetables, cantaloupe, fortified dairy products, liver and fortified cereals.
  • Zinc: Fortified cereals, red meats and seafood.

If you are unable to ingest all of the recommended food groups with the recommended number of servings daily, you may benefit from oral nutrition supplements. Various types of supplements are available, including milkshake-type beverages, clear beverages, bars, and puddings. If adequate intake is a challenge, consider discussing your situation with a registered dietician.

Managing the Holiday Blues

Holiday Blues

By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*

The holidays should be a time of happiness, but for some people it can trigger a range of emotions including the temporary feeling of anxiety or depression also known as the Holiday Blues. The Holiday Blues can be caused by extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even memories that accompany the season.

The Holiday Blues might include:

  • Fatigue
  • Tension
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness or isolation
  • Sadness
  • A sense of loss

How can you avoid the Holiday Blues?

  • Stick to normal routines as much as possible.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Take time for yourself, but don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with supportive, caring people.
  • Eat and drink in moderation. Don’t drink alcohol if you are feeling down.
  • Get exercise—even if it’s only a short walk.
  • Keep things simple. Make a to-do list.
  • Set reasonable expectations and goals for holiday activities such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, attending parties or sending holiday cards.
  • Set a budget for holiday activities. Don’t overextend yourself financially.
  • Listen to music or find other ways to relax.
  • Perform an act of kindness. It will provide you with a good feeling.

Remember, the Holiday Blues are short-term. Be patient and take the holiday season day by day. You will get through it!

Excerpts from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.

 

November is National Caregivers Month

senior couple sitting together on patio laughing

By Carol Combs, MSW, Oxford’s Memory Care Program Coordinator

We’ve all heard the expression “laughter is the best medicine”, but sometimes it is very difficult to find the humor in a stressful, caregiving situation.

There are many positive effects gained from laughter.

  • Laughter releases tension
  • Laughter improves breathing
  • Laughter strengthens your immune system
  • Laughter releases endorphins
  • Laughter boosts energy
  • Laughter reduces pain
  • Laughter elevates mood

Finding the humor in the smallest thing can help you through difficult or stressful times.

Have you laughed with your loved one today?

  • Try reading funny books
  • Watch comedy movies, TV shows or posts on YouTube
  • Read the comics
  • Act silly
  • Play with a child
  • Tell a joke

Life can be frustrating, but try to look for something positive. Try to smile and laugh, even if it feels forced. The body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. You get the same physiological and psychological benefits.

Caregivers have shared anecdotes as examples of finding humor in caregiving:

Our cat has been acting weird and we didn’t know why until yesterday, when we caught Mom putting coffee in his food dish!

One evening while my parents were watching TV, Dad looked at Mom and said, “Are you ever going home, you’ve been here all day?”

Grandma’s community had a hat party. She didn’t have a hat so she wore a pair of panties on her head. You’re never too old to have fun!

When Mom passed away, I had the unenviable task of choosing her casket. I had to find a way to release the tension; so, I asked the funeral director if they had any caskets on clearance because my mom never bought anything full price. I’m sure Mom smiled at that!

Laughter is a priceless medicine that is free, fun and easy to use! Laughter works—no joke!

November is National Caregivers Month, and we want to acknowledge all caregivers who selflessly give so much to care for someone else.

Source: AgingCare.com